April 9, 2021
The World Needs Visionaries
Claflin University to Host Face-to-Face Commencement Convocation for Classes of 2020 and 2021
Claflin University will host its spring Commencement Convocation on Saturday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m. This ceremony will celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021 and will be held at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds. It is a ticketed event, however, you can watch live on the University's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ClaflinUniversity1869.

"The decision to hold an in-person Commencement Convocation was influenced by the recent development of three vaccines with high efficacy rates and the trend of lower COVID-19 infections in the state," said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University. "The Commencement Committee took these factors into consideration and recommended to hold the Commencement Convocation at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds, which has adequate space for social distancing. While participation is completely voluntary, the University feels a strong sense of obligation to offer the longstanding tradition of the Commencement ceremony. I look forward to handing students their degrees and celebrating this momentous occasion," Dr. Warmack said. 
Claflin University to Host Virtual Baccalaureate Service
The Reverend Dr. Benjamin D. Snoddy, '69, will be the guest speaker for Claflin University's Virtual Baccalaureate Service at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 23. You can watch the service on Claflin's YouTube channel or Facebook page. Baccalaureate is an interfaith service to honor Claflin University's graduating class.

Rev. Dr. Benjamin D. Snoddy is a native of Wellford, S.C., located in Spartanburg County. At the age of 13, he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and has surrendered to God's call to preach the Gospel since 1965. He was ordained in 1967 by the Spartanburg County Baptist Association at the request of New Trinity Baptist Church of Wellford, S.C.

He is a graduate of Claflin University and the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center of Atlanta, Ga. He has completed doctoral studies at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. He has also completed four quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education in the hospital and correctional settings respectively and one year of Advanced Pastoral Psychotherapy at the Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center. Rev. Dr. Snoddy received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Morris College in Sumter, S.C,. in 1992 and from Benedict College of Columbia, S.C., following his Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of May 2014.

Rev. Dr. Snoddy served as a pastor of the Bushy Pond Baptist Church of Norway, S.C. and the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Blackville, S.C. In addition, he has served as a Clinical Chaplain of the SC Department of Corrections for four years. From 1995-2000, Rev. Dr. Snoddy served as president of the SC Baptist Congress of Christian Education. In May 2013, he completed a five-year tenure as the 15th President of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina.

Currently, Rev. Dr. Snoddy serves an assistant dean of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, which is an affiliate of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center of Atlanta, Ga., where he serves as chair of the Membership and Nominating Committee and secretary of the Board. He is also a member and chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee of the Board of Trustees of Benedict College of Columbia, S.C. He is emeritus moderator of the Spartanburg County Baptist Association after serving 20 years as moderator. He continues to serve the Association faithfully as the preident-dean of the Spartanburg County Baptist Congress of Christian Education in 2016. Furthermore, Rev. Dr. Snoddy serves as the senior pastor of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church of Spartanburg where he has served for the past 44 years.

Rev. Dr. Snoddy was inducted by his alma mater into the Claflin University's Hall of Fame in November 2003. After serving as chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Spartanburg Technical College (now known as Spartanburg Community College) for seven years of a 12-year tenure, the Board of Commissioners named the college's boardroom on the main campus the "Dr. Benjamin D. Snoddy Boardroom." On November 25, 2005, he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Governor Mark Sanford. In 2015, Rev. Dr. Snoddy was the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award of the Boy Scouts of America and the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. The Chapel and Family Life Complex of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church was named the Dr. Benjamin D. Snoddy Chapel and Family Life Complex in June 2012 in honor and recognition of his meritorious service.

Rev. Dr. Snoddy is married to the former Sheila L. Harvin of Pinewood, S.C. He is the father of two adult daughters and is the grandfather of one granddaughter.
Claflin University to Offer L.E.A.Dership Promise Endowed Scholarship
Jarrod D. Benjamin and Taylor D. McCain
Claflin University has established an endowment for inmates whose incarceration has ended and qualify to attend the university as first-generation students. The L.E.A.Dership Promise Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide those students  access to Claflin’s transformational academic, cultural and social experiences. 

The endowment was created through donations from the LEAD Firm, founded in August 2017 by Mr. Jarrod D. Benjamin and Ms. Taylor D. McCain. The organization is a comprehensive higher education consulting firm based in Greensboro, N.C., that specializes in student, staff, and faculty programming, curriculum design, and leadership conference planning and implementation.  

“We established The LEAD Firm to ensure that equitable and culturally relevant programs are available for Gen Z and Millennial students,” said Benjamin. “Our goal is to continue to create pathways to success. This is our leadership promise to our community. We are committed to closing the socio-economic gap preventing students of color from completing their educational goals. Claflin University provides mentorship, co-curricular engagement and workforce development. These were the attributes we sought out when deciding on the institution we would invest in.”

Claflin’s Pathway from Prisons and Second Chance Pell Grant programs are consistent with the goals of the leadership Promise Endowed Scholarship Fund. Both initiatives are coordinated by Claflin’s Center for Social Justice. The Pathway from Prisons Program will offer bachelor’s degree programs to incarcerated individuals in the S.C. Department of Corrections. The Second Chance Pell Grant - funded by the U.S. Department of Education provides need-based Federal Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals in federal and state prisons. 

“We are extremely pleased that Mr. Benjamin and his colleagues at the LEAD Firm chose Claflin for this life changing opportunity for the prison population in our state,” said Dr. Marcus Burgess, the University’s interim vice president for institutional advancement. “The scholarship is congruent with the University’s mission to be a catalyst for personal and professional fulfillment that also embraces diversity and inclusion.” 

Burgess said that Claflin and the LEAD firm will announce later when students can apply for the scholarship. However, individuals or organizations interested in providing financial support for the L.E.A.Dership Promise Endowed Scholarship can donate at https://alumni.claflin.edu/the-leadership-promise-esf
Watch Panther Talks Live
Panther Talks Live is a webinar series that highlights Claflin University events and issues. The program features in-depth discussions with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and University supporters. Panther Talks Live engages Claflin University and surrounding communities while increasing awareness for student success, accomplishments by our distinguished alumni, faculty and staff, fundraising opportunities, and special events.

Click here to register to watch the next Panther Talks Live on Tuesday, April 13, at 6 p.m. This episode's theme is Graduation!

You are invited to submit questions for this virtual program, please send them via email to communications@claflin.edu.

Click here to watch past episodes.
Alumni News
Congratulations to Ananya Gupta, '20, who was awarded a $8,000 scholarship from Ricoh USA, Inc. The Ricoh Scholars Program assists Clemson University graduate students continuing their science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) education at the university after attending a HBCU. Gupta is currently a first-year Ph.D. student studying human-centered computing at Clemson. "Ananya's work on making the ways we interact online more accessible and more secure is exciting, and it's exactly the kind of thing we want to support with the Ricoh Scholars program," said Dr. Bart Knijnenburg, Assistant Professor in Human-Centered Computing, Clemson University.
Andre’ T. Williams, 11, has been selected as the new police chief for Pine Ridge, S.C. Chief Williams will be officially sworn in on Tuesday, April 13, during a town hall meeting. Williams graduated from Claflin University with a bachelors degree in criminal justice and a minor in sociology. He later went on to serve in the United States Army and Army National Guard. In 1993, Williams began his career in law enforcement with the Department of Corrections in Allendale, S.C. He has served as a corporal, a shift sergeant, and an assistant leader of the Rapid Response Team. In 2001, Williams joined the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office where he worked in road patrol, investigations, and the narcotics unit. In 2011, Williams was appointed Chief of Police for the City of Chester where he served 4 years. In 2015, Williams served as Chief of Security for eight schools in the Chester County School District. In 2017, Williams returned to the Department of Corrections as a State Agent Internal Affairs Investigator. In 2018, Williams was appointed Chief of Police for the City of Kingstree, where he served 3 years. Williams is an active member of the National Chief Association and South Carolina Chief Association. In 2014, he also completed South Carolina Law Enforcement Commanders School. [WISTV]
Would you like to purchase Claflin University items for yourself or as gifts? Proceeds from the items above will support scholarships for the next generation of visionary leaders at Claflin University.

Click here to order today.

If you are paying by check, please make payable to Claflin University. Please put t-shirt size on the memo line. Mail to:

Claflin University
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For more information, please call (803) 535-5348.
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@Claflin is published by the Office of Communications & Marketing 
President: Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement: Dr. Marcus H. Burgess, '96
Assistant Vice President for Communications & Marketing: George Johnson Jr.
Public Relations Director: J. Craig Cotton
Web Communications Manager: Colin Myers, '07
Interns: Myles Coverson-Springs, Tariq Edwards, Isaiah Griffin,
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